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Cuba will respect Fidel Castro's dying wish that no statues be erected in his honor and no streets be named after him. Despite his omnipresence that endured for decades, the late communist leader always said he did not want any monuments in his honor on the island."There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary," Castro stated in 2003. "The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods."

Consequently, Cuba’s National Assembly approved the law, which “bans commemorative statues of Fidel Castro and naming monuments and public places after the former leader.

Despite Fidel’s sentiments, Raul told the Assembly that “His fighting spirit will remain in the conscience of all Cuban revolutionaries, today, tomorrow and always,” Some have predicted that Fidel’s legend will grow even more despite his death, much like Che Guevara.

There a couple exceptions to the law banning the use Castro’s name in public places. The term Fidel Castro may used as a name for any institution created to study his role in Cuban history. The law also does not ban using his image, photo or likeness for public acts, Cuban military institutions, and educational or cultural entities.

Published in News about Cuba
Monday, 26 December 2016 11:08

El Viejo y el Mal

The title of this article is word play on the title of Hemingway’s prize winning novel, "El Viejo y El Mar." In this case the translation of the title is “The Old Man and Evil,” referring to the legacy of the late Fidel Castro.

As a result of Castro’s dictatorship Cuba is truly an impoverished country locked in a time warp, where the average monthly salary hovers around $25 dollars and where there is no real freedom of expression, opportunities, dissent or human rights. Many of those who clamor for change are imprisoned. Because of this situation fifteen percent of the islands citizens are in exile in an effort to make a better life for themselves. The revolution was really about Fidel and his socialistic vision and not the Cuban people. He created a system of educated people who had little hope of getting ahead in life. I must admit that the man was a political genius to be able to stay in power for almost 50 years.

The government that Fidel left to his brother does have its supporters among some of those who have lived under the system all of their lives and who do not know nothing else.

However, as I have alluded to in many of my articles, there is no reason to lose hope. Raúl has made some cosmetic changes but democracy and real change has yet to occur. Given the events of the last few years, I feel positive about the country moving in the right direction. But the million dollar question is, How long will the process take?

It is hoped that with the improved relations with the U.S., more widespread and accessible Internet and an influx of new ideas, once again Cuba will regain its spendor as “The Pearl of the Caribbean.” I am betting that it will.

Published in Living in Cuba

In the first part of this article I discussed the possible scenarios in the wake of Fidel’s death since many are questioning if the Cuban Revolution will be able to survive. Now I would like to talk about possible successors once Raúl steps down in 2018. So who will follow him? At this time everything seems to point to Miguel Díaz-Canel taking over the reigns of the island nation.

It appears that for the first time in half a century a person who did not fight in in the revolution or without the last name of Castro will be at the helm. Raúl had to select someone who would ensure the perpetuity of the only communist country in the hemisphere and Díaz-Canel seems to be the logical choice at juncture.

The 56-year-oldDíaz–Canel is an electrical engineer by trade with political experience and who is known to wear bluejeans and not military uniforms. He supports the opening up of the Internet and stated in a recent speech, “Today with the development of social networks and the Internet, to prohibit something of the type is virtually impossible and makes no sense at all.”

In contrast to the Fidel and Raúl, he is strikingly tall and claims to be a man of simple tastes. Some say he resembles the actor Richard Gere because of his full head of gray hair and good looks. However, he is not known to be a great orator. “Comrade Díaz is by no means a political novice,” stated Raúl when the former was appointed to the second most important political position in Cuba.

Although Díaz-Canel is the odds on favorite to succeed Raúl, there are a couple of other names that have been mentioned. Cuban Chancellor, Bruno Rodríguez’s name has come up. In addition, Marino Murillo, the mentor of Cuban economic reforms is in the mix, as is Raul’s only son Alejandro Castro Espín. But when all is said and done, Díaz-Canel appears to be the most likely choice unless something unforeseen occurs to change Raul’s mind between now and 2018.

At one time it was thought that either Vice President Carlos Lange or ex-chancellor Felipe Pérez Roque would eventually take over control of the country. However, both fell out of favor with the government.

Published in News about Cuba

For many Cubans, Fidel Castro for all practical purposes was dead and buried years ago. Therefore, many of them have had their eyes and minds turned toward the future in an effort to move on from Fidel. There are no statues to Fidel in Cuba but his slogans can be found painted on the side of many buildings and billboards. So, it will be difficult to forget him altogether since his name will still be on the lips of those who loved him and others who blamed him for all of the island’s ills.

Nevertheless, with the death of Fidel the country’s political situation should open up and become more flexible. Raúl will have an enormous weight taken off his shoulders. He will no longer have to deal with his older brother’s overwhelming personality, persona nor his opinions. Fidel’s omnipresence will no longer be looming in the shadows.

The Cuban people can only hope for some type of change for the better, especially with the closer ties and improved relations with the U.S. Alejandro López Levy, a specialist in Cuban affairs at New York University’s of Global Studies, stated “After Fidel’s death there should be reforms designed to eradicate the aspects of communist politic’s that are not practical.” "The impact and nature of the posible reforms will be limited to Raul’s vision since he has the last word in these matters and the fact that he has vowed to be true to the essence of the Cuban Revolution.” He has already made progress in reforming the country since her took over in 2008 by allowing small businesses and the sale of homes in an effort to stimulate the economy.

If the United State’s policy of normalization continues in the direction it is currently moving, the prospect of of change on the island should continue. Let’s hope that President-elect Trump will not roll back the progress that has already been made in U.S/Cuba relations. By continuing the progress toward normalization of relations with Cuba Mr. Trump has an chance to make Cuba part of his foreign policy legacy as well.

As stated in the Huffington Post, "A candidate who based much of his campaign on leveling the playing field for US trade should encourage, not undermine, the American companies that after 57 years of being locked out of the Cuban market, can finally have access to that market. Donald Trump ran as an agent of change. After fifty years of a failed embargo, normalization of relations with Cuba is the right kind of change."

Published in News about Cuba
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